Royals look to spoil Reds' interim manager's day
Cincinnati Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman has a long track record as a manager and coach in the major leagues. It's also evident this season that he's earned the respect of his players.
What Riggleman doesn't have is a job for next season.
Now that the 2018 season is in its final week -- the Reds and Kansas City Royals close out a two-game series Wednesday at Great American Ball Park -- Riggleman is wondering about his status for next season.
Unlike St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt, who turned his team around at midseason following former manager Mike Matheny's firing, Riggleman hasn't been given a new contract. The Reds made an abrupt about-face under Riggleman once former manager Bryan Price was let go following a 3-15 start, playing above .500 for several months.
But they've since regressed and are ending the season in September much like they began it in April. Their 4-3 loss Tuesday night to the Royals was their fourth in a row and their ninth in 12 games.
Hunter Dozier hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth, Ryan O'Hearn had a two-run shot off right-hander Matt Harvey in the fourth and the Royals held off the Reds, who stranded five runners over the final two innings. With a 66-92 record, the Reds are assured of a fourth consecutive season with 91 or more losses.
Worse yet, they've all but stopped hitting, although Dilson Herrera contributed a two-run homer Tuesday. Before then, they were shut out in five of their previous nine games, despite having an offense that ranks in the top half of the National League. They've scored only 16 runs in those last 12 games.
Still, Riggleman wants to return.
"I'm really happy to have been here to do this. I hope I continue to do it. ... I would prefer to be here (in 2019)," Riggleman told the team's website. "You can't take it for granted. I have some great friends in baseball who have been in the game for as long as I have who are now out of the game. All these jobs are precious, whether you're managing or coaching."
The Reds are Riggleman's fifth team as a manager, counting the Seattle Mariners, a team he also managed for part of a season. He managed the San Diego Padres for full seasons in 1993 and 1994, the Chicago Cubs from 1995-99 and the Washington Nationals from midway through the 2009 season to midway through 2011.
Riggleman didn't think he'd manage again after resigning the Nationals job because they wouldn't give him a new contract. But he likes this current Reds team and would like to return.
Reds left-hander Cody Reed (1-2, 3.66), who opposes Royals right-hander Heath Fillmyer (2-3) on Wednesday, also wants to be back in Cincinnati next season.
Reed is only 2-10 with a 5.59 ERA in parts of three major league seasons, making 38 appearances and starting 17 times. But in his third trial with the Reds, he's finally showing that he might be capable of being a reliable major league pitcher.
He pitched scoreless baseball in each of his last two starts, shutting out the Miami Marlins on five hits over six innings Thursday and the Chicago Cubs on two hits over five innings Sept. 15. Both starts were on the road.
Fillmyer is trying to make an impression for next season, too, as he makes his 13th start of the season, after giving up two runs or fewer in three of his last five starts. He lasted seven innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates last Wednesday, when he allowed two runs and eight hits in a 2-1 Royals loss.
However, he had a pair of rough starts against Minnesota before that, permitting 10 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings.
Fillmyer appears to one of a half-dozen pitchers who will be competing for a spot in the Royals rotation next spring.
"We've seen a lot of growth in the rotation," manager Ned Yost said. "We've seen positive things with the whole club but, yes, the rotation has pitched well (lately)."